Family White-eyes and Yuhinas (Zosteropidae)

Least Concern

Reunion Grey White-eye (Zosterops borbonicus)


French: Zostérops de Bourbon German: Réunion-Graubrillenvogel Spanish: Anteojitos gris de Reunión
Other common names: Mascarene White-eye (when lumped with Z. mauritianus)

Motacilla borbonica

J. R. Forster#R

, 1781,

Bourbon (Reunion)


Until recently considered conspecific with Z. mauritianus. Very variable in colour, proportions and genetics over short distances#R, with three monomorphic populations in lowlands and a polymorphic (brown and grey) one in highlands#R, and evidence that highland and lowland groups diverged in allopatry#R, although morphs have no genetic signature and are presumed to be recent developments#R. Two subspecies have been named, alopekion and xerophila, from near sea level and uplands, but are no longer generally recognized. Monotypic.



Introduced, unsuccessfully, to Île Sainte-Marie (off NE Madagascar) and Nosy Be (off NW Madagascar) in 19th century#R.

Descriptive notes

10·7–11·4 cm; male 6·8–10 g, female 7·3–11·1 g. Distinctive white-eye with white rump, no eyering; characteristically cocks the tail. Adult has crown, back and upperwing-... read more


Song an elaborate loud warble, which intersperses flocking and contact calls, and sometimes... read more


Scrub-forest, highland heath, evergreen forest, pine (Pinus) and casuarina (Casuarina... read more

Food and feeding

Primarily insectivorous; also fruits and nectar. Insects include especially Hemiptera (whiteflies), grasshoppers and crickets (Orthoptera... read more


Sept–Dec, occasionally to Feb, and adults feeding young observed in Aug; peak probably Oct–Nov. Helpers feeding young reported; nests... read more


Resident. The colour morphs appear to reflect unusually low levels of historical and contemporary... read more

Status and conservation

Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Restricted-range species: present in Réunion EBA. Common; population estimated at 556,000 individuals in 1967 and subsequently... read more

Recommended citation

van Balen, B., de Juana, E. & Kirwan, G.M. (2019). Reunion Grey White-eye (Zosterops borbonicus). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 22 August 2019).